Foursome Forms CIM, Bluefin Coalition

The storage divisions of IBM, Hitachi, Sun and Veritas to support the Common Information Model and Bluefin specifications.

The storage divisions of IBM, Hitachi Ltd., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Veritas Software Corp. today will announce collective support for the Common Information Model and Bluefin specifications.

CIM is an evolving language for storage hardware and software to speak the same management language. Its details, along with the Bluefin implementation standard, are still evolving from the Storage Networking Industry Associations Storage Management Initiative.

The four companies are agreeing to three criteria: to promise to ship products that are CIM- and Bluefin-compliant in 2003; to test each others products together in SNIA plugfests; and to share their CIM provider technology, according to a joint statement to released today. Whereas the Storage Management Initiative exists for development of the actual standards, the new, unnamed coalition exists to actually implement them, according to James Staten, a spokesman for Sun, in Santa Clara, Calif.

"The biggest thing that always holds back a standard is that they dont always set hard rules for when youll ship anything," he said, citing the hype but lack of products for the iSCSI niche. "Were simply saying that, as members of SMI who are committed to CIM [and Bluefin], were putting a stake in the ground."

Missing from the unnamed coalition are Hewlett-Packard Co. and EMC Corp. Steve Jerman, storage management architect for HP and the original CIM author, and EMCs John Tyrell, technology architect, together co-chair SNIAs CIM committee, known as the Disk Resource Management Work Group.

"HP was invited to join but did not do so because we felt that it was totally redundant and potentially confusing, not to mention irrelevant. There already is an alliance to support CIM, and HP does not see the need for anyone to create another," said HP spokesman Mark Stouse, in Houston.

EMC, of Hopkinton, Mass. was not invited, spokesman Michael OMalley said. If EMC had been invited, it still may not have joined because the company already meets the three criteria, he said. Suns Staten and Jodi Reinman, a spokeswoman for Hitachi, of Tokyo, said they believe it was Veritas responsibility to notify EMC. Veritas officials, in Mountain View, Calif., would not say it was their job to notify EMC. The coalition, spokesman Phil Nash said, "came about as a result of an ad hoc meeting of the initial four companies at Sun Networking World, and the effort to showcase support for this standard is open to all."

Meanwhile, CIM and Bluefin have been challenged on their technical merits. There is much it doesnt yet support, like network-attached storage, and it doesnt specify how vendors would build feature differentiation. Device discovery and backward compatibility are also obstacles CIM has yet to overcome.

"All the talk about CIM or the other things like it, Bluefin and the others, are mostly vendors trying to work together. Its not as important to customers," said Dennis Martin, an analyst with Evaluator Group Inc., in Greenwood Village, Colo. Regarding the absence of EMC in the coalition, "Maybe its to make some marketing noise. I dont know its that big of a thing. Obviously youve got groups of competitors here," he said.